Women need to give birth where they feel the most safe and the most supported, and they deserve a wide variety of options–hospital, home birth, birthing center. Many of our choices about where to give birth are done so unconsciously (I’ll just stick with the care provider I’ve had for years because it’s easiest) or at the will of others (I’ll have a home birth because my partner really wants me to). I strongly encourage you to spend some time thinking about and weighing all the pros and cons of each birthing location (and your individual pregnancy needs) to help you determine the best place that is right for you. Environmental factors often play a huge role in birth outcome and each mom must trust her gut as to the place that will allow her to best surrender, be vulnerable and be in safe and trusted care. That said, she must also be well informed and in touch with the reality of today’s birthing experiences. This is just one of the many decisions that will need to be weighed carefully as an awake, mindful mama.
It’s not a secret that women need more birthing options. The state of maternal health in the United States today is abysmal. But one must not give up hope that with one mom, one birth, and one baby at a time we can make some kind of a difference. But that’s a post for another time.
I had a student ask me recently about birth centers in the DC area, so let me address that.
Here’s the options for Birth Centers in the DC area (there’s really only 1 in DC!):
DC Family Health and Birth Center, Washington DC
Special Beginnings Birth Center, Annapolis, MD
Premier Birth Center,Chantilly, VA, Winchester, VA
BirthCare, Alexandria, VA
Frederick Birth Center, Frederick, MD
What exactly is a birth center, you ask? According the American Association of Birth Centers, a birth center is “a health care facility for childbirth where care is provided in the midwifery and wellness model. The birth center is freestanding and not a hospital. The birth center difference is personal attention, a holistic program, midwifery model of care, and a nurturing place that is family centered.”
In practice this looks like a bedroom like environment (but not your bedroom!) to birth in, with the support of family, doula, etc. and a care team that gives you ample time to get questions answered, to birth, and to transition to motherhood. Birth centers have varying pain management options. To learn more about the birth center statistics, read this. Should your labor require a significant medical intervention or a cesarean delivery you would be transferred to a pre-determined hospital. And to get the lowdown on the full entirety of birth center experiences (along with hundreds of other birth stories!) check out The Birth Hour.
I’m not advocating for one location or another–remember, I respect personal choice and I’m a mom who birthed in a hospital twice–but this was another really interesting article from an OB who feels that not every baby needs to be born in the hospital.
Ultimately, it comes down to researching all the options available to you (not just location, but also care provider!!) and then honoring your gut about the place that resonates most with you.